Americans can become very ethnocentric or focused on our own culture, and it is important to realize that many of our assumptions and suppositions will not work in other countries. Even countries such as Australia and England that speak English just like in the U.S., have completely different cultural biases and expressions. While some marketing efforts do work globally, most do not. Dealing with cultural differences in international business takes research, education and patience.

Words and Phrases

In countries that speak English, not all of the words translate to the same meaning. Words that are used in the United States regularly can be taboo in other countries. Before you interact with someone, research the words and phrases that you should not use unless you wish to seem unprofessional. Expressions almost always do not translate to other cultures. Either they do not have the same cultural experiences to understand the implied joke or the words don’t make sense to them. Therefore, take care when speaking to use plain language without expressions.


Gestures are another manner in which cultures differ. A gesture used in one region means something different in another. You may be swearing at your colleagues without realizing it. Be aware of your gestures when meeting with someone from another culture.

Consulting with Cultural Experts

When doing online marketing for another culture, it is a best practice to consult with a cultural expert to ensure that you do not accidentally offend or confuse your audience. There is no point in investing money in a campaign that is doomed from the moment it is presented. Spend time with your expert to assess your language and imagery to make your interactions count.

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